By Fuat Kabakci
China aims to become a leader in the nuclear energy sector with its plan to construct 110 nuclear reactors by 2030, according to a recent report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The country, which became synonymous with high-speed rail lines, fast supercomputers, the international space station project, and quantum communication technology in recent years, has also shown rapid development in the field of nuclear energy.
According to information gathered by Anadolu Agency, China put its first nuclear energy reactor into service in 1991 and began generating electricity with the construction of three reactors between 1991 and 2000. It subsequently built ten reactors between 2000 and 2010 and more than 30 nuclear reactors during the period 2010-2018.
By building new nuclear reactors, China increased its installed nuclear power capacity and became the third largest country in total installed capacity after the U.S. and France.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, China has 44 nuclear operational reactors on its own turf, has 13 reactors under construction, and has 455 reactors operating in 31 countries.
The agency shows that China is currently generating 3.96 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, which is expected to exceed 40 gigawatts (GW) of capacity by the end of 2018.
By 2020, the country is targeting 50 GW of electricity capacity with the commissioning of planned reactors.
Nuclear energy cooperation abroad
The country is also expanding cooperation with other countries such as China, Pakistan, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Ghana and the U.S. by exporting its nuclear energy technology.
In May 2017, China made a $15 billion deal with Argentina for the construction of two reactors in the country. According to the agreement, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Argentina’s state-owned Nuclearelectrica will jointly carry out the project.
Pakistan is also another recipient of its nuclear energy technology with Chinese plans to construct a nuclear power plant. A cooperation agreement for the construction of a 1,000-megawatt reactor at the Chashma nuclear power plant in Punjab was signed between CNNC and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) in 2017.
Moreover, the country signed a nuclear energy investment agreement worth $62 billion in 2015 with the U.K. According to the deal, China’s General Nuclear Corporation will take a one-third stake in the U.K.'s planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.
China in Turkey's third nuclear power plant project
China intends to build Turkey’s third nuclear power plant project using its third generation nuclear power plant technology, the CAP1400 reactor.
In 2016, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in nuclear energy sector.
The MoU, signed between Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Ministry and China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) involves mutual developments of nuclear technology and cooperation, while negotiations are ongoing for the realization of the plant in Turkey's Thrace region.
During his visit to Turkey last week, the Chinese Government Representative and Deputy Foreign Minister Li Yuching said that China's NEA is negotiating with Turkish counterparts on an intergovernmental cooperation agreement text for the third plant.
*Firdevs Yuksel from Ankara contributed to this report